After the Brooklyn Nets defeated the New York Knicks 110-107 behind Kevin Durant’s 53-point explosion on Sunday, KD had some pointed words for NYC Mayor Eric Adams. They were motivated by the bizarre scene of Kyrie Irving in the stands at Barclays Center as a spectator, yet not able to suit up and play for the Nets.

The frustration is understandable. Durant and co. have 14 games left and Irving is only eligible to play in four of those. The Nets are also two and a half games behind the seventh-seeded Toronto Raptors. As of Monday, they’d visit Toronto for the Play-In tournament, which is a critical game Irving will not be eligible to appear in. Canada still has rules in place similar to NYC’s. If they lose that, then they’d host a game Irving wouldn’t be eligible to appear in either back in Brooklyn. Dare we say, Scary Hours?

However, Durant’s message might be a little too harsh, especially one pointed at a top leader.

“It just feels like at this point now, somebody’s trying to make a statement on point to flex their authority. But you know, everybody out here is looking for attention and that’s what I feel like the Mayor wants right now, some attention. But he’ll figure it out soon, he better…. people didn’t understand what was going on, but now it just looks stupid. So hopefully Eric, you guys can figure this out,” Durant said.

Initially, it seemed as if KD’s words were calculated. Surely, he anticipated that there could be consequences for directly calling out the city’s top politician, right? By labeling the spectacle of Irving in the stands but not in the game as “ridiculous” and “stupid,” a Mayor he calls “Eric” (not exactly a sign of respect) angling for “attention,” it seemed as though the message was premeditated a bit–even if it came across as a direct challenge.

But perhaps KD was made aware that it was too harsh, a little too comfortable. Because he’s now walking back his take a bit. Maybe someone in Nets PR told Durant  he came off a bit harsh and showing up the Mayor publicly like this isn’t the best way to achieve getting his friend back out on the floor at Barclays Center.

With that said, Durant released a statement to take the sting out of his recent remarks, even for a little bit (per Nick Friedell of ESPN):

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“The last two years have been a difficult and painful time for New Yorkers, as well as a very confusing time with the changing landscape of the rules and mandates. I do appreciate the task the Mayor has in front of him with all the city has been through. My frustration with the situation doesn’t change the fact that I will always be committed to helping the communities and cities I live in, and play in.”

Interesting. He doesn’t come out and apologize. But he does share that he’s frustrated and confused. More explanation than anything else. The cynic in me is wondering if he was asked by someone to apologize and didn’t want to so instead shared some of the why behind his pointed words.

The last thing the Nets want to happen here is the Mayor to think “well I can’t give them what they want now that KD called me out, it’ll appear weak to my voting base.” Not to suggest a city Mayor would think along those lines himself. He’s probably thinking more about COVID-19 numbers, and whether or not vaccine mandates help there, and the people who have recently lost their jobs because they didn’t want to take the jab either.

But what if someone on the Mayor’s staff did think about those types of optics? Whatever the case may be, it sounds as if Kevin Durant is content to soften some of the sting of his initial message.

He was feeling frustrated and probably still is. Irving can show up and sit with fans where he is presumably not a threat, but he cannot come and play. Durant isn’t the only one who doesn’t understand that, but we need to remind ourselves of one important thing.

We talked about the latest on this theme during the “Nothing But Nets” podcast, and how it might shake up the East.

The COVID-19 numbers should be what the Mayor thinks about, not one player. If Adams determines it truly is preposterous for Irving to be allowed in the stands but not on the floor then maybe a change will come in time for these Nets to have a full-time Irving for the playoffs. They’re still among finals favorites (per FanDuel) to win the whole thing. So maybe someone in Vegas is optimistic for change in Brooklyn? We’ll see if Durant’s follow up message helps him patch things up with a Mayor he still very much needs in his corner.